Richard E. Zelenka, Esq., P.E.

Richard E Zelenka Intellectual Property Law

Managing Member and Partner

As an accomplished engineer, former Dow 30 business executive, and experienced patent attorney, Rick Zelenka offers his clients a rare combination of industry knowledge, business acumen and legal guidance. He has drafted and obtained patents in diverse arts such as automated systems, business methods and software, medical devices, energy, electronic devices, mechanical systems and commercial products. He also holds a patent for his own invention.

While a NASA engineer for over nine years, he created and flight-tested collision warning and guidance systems, documenting and presenting his signal processing and sensor fusion research in dozens of technical papers. He also established and managed several NASA-industry partnerships. After leaving NASA, he developed and launched an airline schedule management software system.

As a Boeing executive for nearly five years, he negotiated agreements for joint technical development programs and government contracts. The partnership agreements spanned European government and industry groups to domestic start-up companies. He also managed hundreds of Boeing employees in a tens of millions of dollars profit/loss business unit entrusted with support of 24/7 USAF operations of a remote observatory site.

After obtaining his law license, Rick practiced for over seven years at an intellectual property specialty firm, Sheridan Ross, and a general practice firm, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck. He has prepared and filed well over a hundred patent applications, spanning local entrepreneurial inventors, two of the foremost commercial electronics technology companies, and a multi-national electric automobile manufacturer. Rick has been registered to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office since 2008.


  • Of Counsel, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
  • Attorney, Sheridan Ross
  • Director, The Boeing Company
  • Principal Engineer, Northrop-Grumman Information Technology
  • Engineer/Researcher, NASA
  • Mechanical Engineer, Failure Analysis Associates


  • J.D., 2010, University of Denver Sturm College of Law
  • M.S., 1989, University of California at Berkeley
  • B.S., 1987, with highest honors, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Bar Admissions and Memberships

  • Colorado, 2010
  • U.S. District Court, Colorado, 2010
  • U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, 2008
  • Registered Professional Engineer (Mechanical), Colorado and California
  • University of Illinois Aerospace Alumni Advisory Board
  • Licensing Executives Society
  • Intellectual Property Owners Association
  • Colorado Bar Association
  • Denver Bar Association
  • Licensed Private Pilot, Federal Aviation Administration


  • Colorado Super Lawyers recognition, 2013-2019
  • DU Law Scholastic Excellence Awards in Patent Litigation, American Legal History
  • Executive Articles Editor, Transportation Law Journal, DU Sturm College of Law
  • Associate Fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Two NASA Turning Goals into Reality awards, five NASA service awards
  • Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society)


  • Reviewer, Aerospace Subcommittee, Advanced Industries Grants, Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade, 2018-present
  • Denver Museum of Nature & Science President’s Leadership Council, 2017-present 
  • Pro bono services, veteran-owned small business, 2017-2018
  • Volunteer, ProBoPat Program of Mi Casa Resource Center, 2015-2017